On the two occasions when I attempted suicide, I remember feeling: everyone else would be better off without me in their life.
I was traumatized, exhausted and depressed from unrelenting emotional and physical pain. I just wanted it to end. Those were very difficult times and Migraine was a big part of them. The guilt tore at my conscience every minute of the day. It took a lot of counseling and being on an antidepressant to help get me back on track.
Few really understand the relationship between migraine and suicide. Clearly, it’s not just a bad headache that will pass by morning. Suicidal thoughts are often a product of Migraine attacks. We know that Migraine is comorbid (occurs with) anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder which can overload an already emotionally stressed individual with Migraine. It’s a Catch 22 of sorts.
- Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States based on national statistics in 2007.
- Migraine is the 12th most disabling disorder in the United States and affects more than 37 million people.
- Americans who have Migraine with aura are three times more likely to attempt suicide compared to those with no Migraine, whether or not major depression is also present..
Suicide can seem like an only way out when one is experiencing constant debilitating pain with no successful treatment. It’s very common for those of us whose life consists of these daily Migraine attacks to feel like we’re at a loss. We feel beat up, chewed up and spit out by chronic migraines. Hopelessness often can creep into our daily thoughts.
Although we may have supporters, many do not. And since we suffer from an invisible illness – we look like healthy, normal people to everyone else – it makes dealing with it that much harder. We begin to feel transparent. Migraine to me is an unrecognizable burden that I carry, which makes the depression and anxiety ever more prevalent. Over the years I have found myself up at night in pain and in tears feeling like there is no way that I can go through another day like this. I feel tired. I feel worn out. I feel used up. It does become a challenge sometimes to push through those feelings, but it gets hard when I feel bombarded by every emotion a human being is capable of feeling. Having two very stigmatized diseases is a very hard and heavy burden to carry. Imagine what it feels like to live with so many misconceptions and falsities on a daily basis.
- Migraineurs represent one of the most stigmatized groups in society.
- Seen as complainers, hypochondriacs, weaklings or lazy.
- Seen as having “just a headache”.
- Chronic sufferers experience worse stigma than episodic sufferers.
- Results in depression, anxiety, decreased quality of life, and disruption of social relationships.
Mental Illness Stigma
- People assume you are unstable, violent or dangerous because of having a mental health condition.
- Lack of understanding by family, friends, colleagues or others you know.
- Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover your mental illness.
- Major Depression Disorder (MDD) is the most common mood disorder and largely misunderstood.
Personally, I’ve been riding the constant emotional rollercoaster of pain for close to 30 years and have been given false hope time and time again. I don’t want to put my body or mind through anymore unsuccessful treatments. It’s daunting to feel as if there will never be a long-term treatment for me. Still, I go on. I continue to go to counseling and take an antidepressant for my depression and anxiety. Thankfully, both are in remission and I am in a good place, even with almost daily Migraines.
If you’re feeling suicidal, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK FREE (8255) for a referral.
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Bonk, Nancy H. “Migraine and Stigma: High Impact – Migraine.” HealthCentral.com. Remedy Health Media, 23 May 2011. Web. 28 May 2012.
Martiello, Laura. “Stigma of Migraine Is Significant; Worse for Those with Chronic Migraine.” Stigma of Migraine Is Significant; Worse for Those with Chronic Migraine. EurekAlert!, 23 June 2010. Web. 28 May 2012.
“Migraine: Fighting the Stigma of Migraine.” Migraine Association of Ireland. Ed. Editorial Board. Migraine Association of Ireland. Web. 28 May 2012.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Mental Health: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 May 2011. Web. 28 May 2012.
“Suicide Rate in Migraine Patients- Some Surprising Statistics | Migravent.” Migravent. Migravent, 20 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 May 2012.
Yoffee, Lynn, and Kevin Hwang, MD, MPH. “The Headache-Depression Connection.” EverydayHealth.com. Everyday Health, 4 Nov. 2011. Web. 28 May 2012.
Jaime Sanders is the writer behind The Migraine Diva, a blog about life with chronic migraine, fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety.
Attributing article from +Migraine Again: http://migraineagain.com/migraine-and-suicide-clearly-its-not-just-a-headache/